SaskWater: helping build the potash industry for 46 years

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Water is the most regulated substance people consume, and a vital natural resource in Saskatchewan’s economy. SaskWater is Saskatchewan’s Crown water utility, providing potable and non-potable water and wastewater services across the province. Its origins date back to 1966 with an initial focus on supplying water to an expanding potash industry.

Its first customer was the Duval Corporation mine, an enterprise still running today and now known as Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.’s Cory mine.

SaskWater started out as the Saskatchewan Water Supply Board on April 7, 1966. Over the years, the provincial government re-organized how water utility services were managed. On July 1, 1984, the Water Supply Board became SaskWater, a new Crown corporation. In 2002, SaskWater was restructured and re-focused again, with the commercial water utility business staying in SaskWater and functions such as water management and regulatory enforcement going to a new Treasury Board Crown corporation, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. On October 15, 2012, the government announced the creation of the Water Security Agency of Saskatchewan, to bring all of government’s core water management responsibilities and technical expertise into one agency.  The provision of water utility services remains with SaskWater.

SaskWater staff in LaRonge Water Treatment Plant.

SaskWater staff in LaRonge Water Treatment Plant.

SaskWater has been providing water to the potash industry in Saskatchewan for 46 years, but October 1,2012 was a special day in its history. It marked the official 10 year anniversary of the water utility in its current form.

“On this occasion, it is appropriate to reflect back on how SaskWater has evolved as a company and trace its growth with the strengthening economy of the province,” says the Honourable Ken Cheveldayoff, Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Water Corporation (SaskWater).

As a commercial Crown, SaskWater’s mission is to provide reliable and professional water and wastewater services for Saskatchewan. Its vision is to be Saskatchewan’s water and wastewater utility of choice. Its customer base includes communities, rural municipalities, rural pipeline groups, and commercial and industrial customers.

Its largest customer segment continues to be the potash industry. SaskWater currently provides non-potable, or untreated, water for industrial processes to six of the operating potash mines in the province, including Agrium Inc., Mosaic Belle Plaine, Mosaic Potash Colonsay ULC, PCS Allan, PCS Cory, and PCS Lanigan. SaskWater has also signed water supply agreements for the K+S Potash Canada GP Legacy mine and BHP Billiton Jansen mine that are under development. Additionally, SaskWater provides potable, or drinking, water to PCS Patience Lake.

Several other companies looking at potential potash mines in the province have also approached SaskWater for assistance to assess possible water supply systems.

“One of our core activities as government is to advance the province’s natural resource strengths in a sustainable manner.  SaskWater contributes to this through the provision of infrastructure and operations expertise to supply the potash industry with water for solution mining, milling operations and domestic uses,” Cheveldayoff says.

“In addition to its industrial customers, SaskWater also serves more than 62,000 residents in Saskatchewan,” he adds.

24-4-Construction of SaskWater’s pumpstation intake for Mosaic Belle Plaine Potash.

Construction of SaskWater’s pumpstation intake for Mosaic Belle Plaine Potash.

The corporation’s revenues in 1966 were $14,000. Ten years ago, SaskWater provided 17 billion litres of water to its customers and generated revenues of $14 million.  By the end of 2012, the company is forecasting water volumes of 46 billion litres and revenues of $41 million.  Further demonstrating growth in the water utility, the corporation had $2 million in assets in 1966, $70 million in 2002, and by the end of 2012, its assets are forecast to be more than $180 million.

Minister Cheveldayoff says SaskWater takes its responsibility seriously because they know the significance of investing in safe and reliable water supply systems for people, communities, and the economy.

Saskatchewan’s economy is going strong, and SaskWater is eager to continue serving the needs of the potash industry for decades to come.

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